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COMMUNIST HEADACHE 



Apis mellifera (worker) 


NOTES FOR WORKING AND LIVING : Vol 1 







COMMUNIST HEADACHE 


NOTES FOR WORKING AND LIVING VOL. 1 

AUTUMN 1995- 


CONTENTS: 


1. New Struggles in an Old Framework...page 1 

2. Some Questions for the Anarchist Movement...page 10 

3. Workplace Struggle vs. Community Struggle...page 14 

4. Source Materials for this issue listed...page 28 


Our notes for working and living represent our efforts to develop a radical 
methodology for examining this society, and our own observations and 
recommendations when we apply this methodology to various aspects of the 

capitalist system. 

We are only a small group, and have put out these first three volumes in a 
hope to engage in some critical debate and to further the revolutionary cause. 

Communist Headache does not exist as some formal organisation. If we 
manage to stir some revolutionaries from their various slumbers then we will 
consider this intial stage as successful. Needless to say we offer no 
blueprints and our analyses are far from flawless. 


Contact us as follows: 
C.H. 

c/o Black Star 
PO Box 446 
Sheffield 
SI 1NY. 








New Struggles in an Old Framework? 

(Background - A discussion on animal rights was suggested as a possible 
workshop at the Northern Anarchist Network conference. We felt that these 
discussions were often not that, particularly as animal rights is the single 
issue supreme in the anarchist milieu. Whilst animal rights has been enjoying 
a raised profile with blockaded ferries, incinerated dairies and heroic martyrs I 
didnt want to solely discuss animal rights or single issues, but I wanted to 
consider the wider context of these new struggles in terms of a possible 
framework that can understand the demands of these new struggles and 
understand their emergence as single issues.) 

I.Some aims 


To consider these new struggles we must assume that there is something 
that is old, and that these old struggles are either less frequent or 
approaching extinction. This is often the favourable opinion. 

What I am interested in is charting a history of the old struggle - which is the 
struggle at the point of production involving the capital/labour relationship - 
perhaps best described as the class struggle in the marxist framework. There 
is also a tradition of defending this old style struggle, not least because it 
forms the backbone of much of the lefts ideas - this line of thinking then goes 
on to presume that these new struggles are anything but class struggles, that 
they originate from a sensationalist media quite happy to see the end of 
industrial unrest and that they end in enhanced egos and good careers for 
those involved. This is often the case. 

I intend to investigate a path between these two polarized ideas. 

2. A method. 


Marxism arose from what Marx actually saw happening 150 years ago. It has 
been used in many different ways to interpret what we should be struggling 
for, while there has been little attention actually paid to how society has 
adjusted to this proposed struggle, and how class has been restructured. 

If we use the principle of interpreting what we see today in an objective 
fashion to base our ideas on how struggles will develop then we are faced 
with problems. An examination of who gets what from the system is often 
obscured by a particular aspect of the system that strikes a disagreeable 
chord. The fact that the terrain of struggle is still the production process 
suggests that the marxist framework can still be considered - there is not a 
new class of enemy identified as JCB operators and counter staff at 
McDonalds or Boots. But rooted in this method is the fact that Marx predicted 
and we are faced with the reality. First we need to examine Marx. 

3. Some Definitions 


First we can define 'new'. What is meant by these new struggles? We could 
pick examples such as road protests, animal welfare, forms of policing 
particularly regarding our rights to entertainment, radical environmentalism, 
etc. These are things we either feel we should get involved in, or see a good 
deal of working class comrades getting involved in. The more we cling to a 
simplified theory of class (and class division) the more we see the middle 
class enjoying an uncriticised involvement (esp. a leadership role) in such 
struggles. And the more we see the working class dividing over these issues. 


1 






There is often a situation of the immoveable object meeting the irresistable 
force - with our interpretations of class (and our assumptions of how it can be 
interpreted) as the immoveable object and the reality of everyday life as the 
irresistable force. 

There is some reconsideration occuring, even down amongst the diehard 
orthodox marxists like the CWO. Whilst all anarchists arent class struggle 
anarchists I will address this discussion at those anarchists who still see the 
class struggle as the prime mover towards communism. 

In terms of 'struggle' I would suggest something that is irresolvable, 
identifying something that unites those in struggle and so identifying a 
common enemy. With such identifications made we can consider the dynamic 
of the struggle. 

4. Old Struggles - Marxisms history. 

We can begin with Marx himself - We need to understand what Marx saw and 
what he chose to interpret, then we can begin to unravel how that has 
changed. Marx was witness to the devlopment of the factory system and the 
birth of the industrial proletariat. This was a supremely important moment in 
the history of civilization and Marx prioritsed what he chose to interpret. 
Though he argues that he was writing a critique of political economy, this 
critique existed in a wider framework of the birth of a possible new formulation 
of struggle that was important to a radical like Marx. If we consider the 
struggle as between 2 poles then we can ask the following questions: 

diagram 1 : A framework for enquiring about a struggle. 


■'them'' 


who are... 


what ? s in 
it for... 



2 






Marx was obsessed with mechanisms of capitalism - and so was concerned 
with the question of what is capitalism in terms of whats in it for 'them 1 . 

diagram 2 : The Marxist analysis. 


“them ' 1 


"us 





Me 

enc 

trx's 

luiry 



What is capitalism in terms of how does it benefit "them” 

i 

Which then determines capitalists and proletarians 

I 

Which then determines the divsion accross means of production 


As for the who are 'them' and 'us' then this question answered itself - in that 
the system pivoted around the means of production, where the 'them' were 
firmly identified as the factory owners, and consequently the ’us’ were firmly 
identified as the industrial wage slaves. 

(i) The first iteration. 

This is better known as the marxism in the service of Mao, Trotsky, Lenin, 
etc. That Marx chose to analyse the mechanisms of capitalism made marxism 
synonomous with the struggle within the mechanisms of capital itself. This 
can be considered as the battle for capitalism instead of the battle against 
capitalism - where we are promised kinder, gentler managers of capitalism 
such as the SWP. This goes part way to explaining their obsession with top 
company bosses who regularly quadruple their salaries. The idea that the 
problem is exchange itself is heretical to trots, who take it upon themselves to 
wrestle at the chains of the battle for capitalism whilst deciding that your 
average proletarian cannot form anything more than a trade union 
consciousness. According to our potential saviours we are trapped in the 
mechanisms of capital and will only be saved when our new leaders take 
control to allow us to slave away for the good of the economy whilst they 
promise not to quadruple their salaries. 


3 









(ii) The second iteration. 


As well as choosing to interpret capitalist economics Marx chose to 
extrapolate his interpretations further in time and so predicted the inevitable 
crisis of capitalism. This partly explained his slack attitude to the ecology 
movement. The virus that would destroy capitalism is the tendency of the rate 
of profit to fall - and this virus grows in the heart of capitalism pushed along 
by our sporadic struggles. That such an extrapolation may make perfect 
mathematical sense is nothing, those that still hold faith in crisis theory fail to 
realise how capitalism has attempted to circumvent this crisis. If groups like 
the CWO were willing to entertain such an idea then they might understand 
the new struggles a little better. 

(iii) The third iteration. 

It was in the 1950's that the question was posed from the other side: 
diagram 3 : The Situationist analysis. 


“them** "us*‘ 



The 'Reversal of Perspective’ - a negative energy 


What is proletarianisation? 


I 

How does capital affect us? 


Which then determines the assault on capitalism 


By now capitalism had developed into a system where the ability to make 
surplus value had become an epidemic (as indeed Marx predicyed), and we 
had seen new organisations of labour represented by scientific management 
(eg Taylorism) and the perpetual re-creation of needs to be satisfied. It was a 
world of advertising, images, surveillence and the promotion of lifestyle. 



4 












Situationism asked the question "what is proletarianisation", but their answer 
lead to the formulation of the spectacle - a gross interpretation of a sick 
society where the options were "to die of starvation or to die of boredom" 
Seeing an intrinsically bureaucratic society with a workplace based on 
hierarchy upon hierarchy of paper shufflers the situationists saw the problems 
of taking their analysis of the subjective conditions of capitalism into the 
framework for the new struggle. While it would be implausible to consider a 
division between those dying of boredom and those not, the message can be 
taken in the spirit of recognising the theft of our creative abilities and forcing a 
reappearance of the crucial division accross the means of production. The 
situationists saw the resolution of this in councilist theory. 

(iv) The fourth iteration 

The autonomist movement emerged with a renewed interest in Marx - both in 
terms of the book he never wrote on wage labour and in terms of retracing 
what he did write through the history of the 20th century. Their central 
argument places an emphasis on our wage labour such that capitalism must 
adopt to our struggles and demands because capital will always need our 
labour. And so if we think of the power of our labour first and foremost then 
we can see that our labour represents the whole sphere of our lives - and 
capitals struggle is to keep this labour in its service. 

This formulation of worker action - capital reaction avoids the pitfalls of 
subjective pessimism as adopted by the followers of the situationists, but 
there comes a time when capital reaction contains an element of predicting 
controlling and nullifying our next action. It is this that can best explain the 
structure of our society, and best explain the new struggles. 

(v) The first deviation. 


The ideas of primitivism are more of a total break from marxism. Again it went 
back to Marx's original ideas but tried to situate the birth and growth of 
capitalism within the wider development of civilization. Marx was clear on this 
- he saw the development of the class system as a positive thing in that it 
contained the seeds of its own destruction - it was an affirmation of the theory 
of stages representing progress - whereby the antagonisms inherent in the 
class system would be stronger than the antagonisms in previous economic 
systems. It also meant that the productive class would be brought together 
within this antagonism and so create the material and social conditions for 
communism. 

The adoption of an anti-progress position such as primitivism is another way 
of recognising that the developed world that we live in - the social and 
material conditions - are far from satisfactory, and no amount of developing or 
progress in the marxist sense can start to rectify this situation. 

The criticism levelled at adopting such a stance is that many of those 
adhering to such a view want to simply go back to an imagined earlier and 
much simpler way of life (though the definition of simpler is a loaded term). 
This criticism is not without foundation, and is in fact highly relevent to many 
of the new struggles of today. An anti-progress position is not something 
adopted out of convenience, to disprove marxisms failures and uncritically 
embrace all new struggles... many of those who are rebelling against the 
miserable quality of life are those from the middle class who have had the 
opportunity and money to taste and reject all that the modern conditions have 
created. To recognise that the development of class society is not a 
necessary precondition for its opposite should not necessarily imply that we 


5 








an^tasier >and ° n ClaSS Stru " le ' thou 9 h this certainly doesnt make our task 

this is . bringing us closer to understanding the modern conditions 
nf 1 i 90nlS ^ S J S °P® n u to debate. I think that both the situationist critique 

tebollLnmmS' fh d the f, utonomist emphasis on the importance of our 
; abour can come together in the communist reappraisal of proqress Our 

nlhlelT' an , d ° u i: threat *? withdraw should not be seenTa demand 
or better (socialist) bosses. It should not be seen as a demand to self 
manage a system that has been built up with the aim of making as much 
profit as possible. It should be seen as a way of refusing the material 

something^b^cfnd'fhem. ^ ^ Created U " der the daSS system ' t0 reaffirm 

If we take this as the basis for our struggle then we must fully appreciate what 
Z final’affi™TSW?*'Agress suggests 

wL!l *t- anta 9 onism, and that it can and will be destroyed by revolution 
When things arent going well the orthodox marxists will say wait the materiai 
fc)unifr°Th' c . ondltlons are. still developing, and they are developing in our 
Thl ® t ls wron 9- Capitalism is trying to resolve the antagonisms of class 

our labour power" ermS ' ^ Wr6Stle 3Way the Upper hand ‘hat we have as 

5. Modern Society 

° f ™, dern , soci ?- ty is tha structure of capitalism trying to survive 
last all of our struggles. These have been struggles based around the 
point of productioni By the time the situationists had asked the questions of 
t 0 he r footi eCt,V t e co l ld ! tl ? ns ’ and the autonomists had extended the concept of 
thf stru 99 ,e , lnt ° everyday life (the social factory), capital had gone on 

started 6 t0 Snd 3 * he lndustrial smuggles by making sure that no more 

I.L ma ?t y J e , V ° IUti ^ ri f S th . e di scussion of our current existance is a blind 
alley - it is argued that a struggle around the workplace will always emerae 
which may well go all the way. The case of the miners strike is most easNy 
remembered where the workplace and community fused into one site of 

were^defeatedf "and ‘in [f a vo ' utona t>'forces based Ground theUers sfrike 
water under the bridge° d yearS haVe P3SSed SinCe then ' Thjs is a lot of 

Since then capitalism has been attacking the antagonists and not necessarilv 
its own antagonism - ie the working class have been directly attacked This 

S rnrl th* bUt there iS " to be 

t 9 hin th f 0 ♦ th obse ™ atlon - ,f the working class can be beaten to a pulp 
then the antagonism of capitalist economics will seal itself This accounts in 
many ways for the expansion of the society of thespectecfe“at the 
situationists set their theories upon - they were quick to realize that the 

s™ite7 1 Da < J£ nt AQ 9r ° W ' n S ' Ze ' lt simply carved up social existance into 
smaller parts. As the saying goes... everything has a price. 

tTt e hfiL a !T sai * d about cu / rent society - From Ma j°r's vision of classlessness 

'“'” p al m wheel ' ■« ““p* 

Inn i?f° n f1 pt ? f h [® rarchi cal consumption has been developed where imaqes 
and 'fe t y|e play the important role. Huge malls - such as Meadowhall exit 
where the priority is on the participants to strut, vogue and observe 


6 



everybody else. Marble pillars and reflective walls complete the atmosphere. 
There is undoubtedly a classlessness about the new forms of entertainment 
that offer a total immersion, virual reality, surfing the internet, fantasy 
football... the list goes on. The information society is not just about workplace 
automation, surveillance and enhanced communication - it is about 
maintaining a consensus capitalism that says everything is hunky-dory and 
we all have new images to live for. 

6. Propositions for New Struggles. 

I will consider 2 broad categories that can be applied within the marxist 
framework. On the first level we have those struggling at the points where 
consensus is the weakest. This is where the veneer that says our system is 
all o.k. starts to crumble. Animal rights protestors are horrified at the goings 
on behind the scenes regarding our nation of animal lovers. Roads protestors 
are horrified at the carving up of outstanding natural beauty in the name of 
the freedom of the motor age. We can call this the struggle at the point of 
contradiction. 


On the second level we have those who try to live beyond this consensus 
whilst accepting the rest of us proles are trapped within this consensus. The 
travellers were never seen as the force towards communism because they 
were just asked to be left alone to get on with their thing. However, as the 
consensus of capitalism becomes tighter and tighter, more and more people 
begin to opt out. Thus the travellers proved an example and influenced the 
ravers, who began to develop their culture of DIY entertainment such as 
bedroom produced techno music and pirate radio stations. This is the 
struggle on the hedonistic level. 

Eventually these two struggles will converge. Road protesting is now a way of 
life for many people. Raving will soon follow. 



7. Escalation and Class Struggle. 

The possible escalation of these struggles is problematical, especially when 
they are swept away from the old formulation of class struggle based around 
our productive ability. They can even start to go against it. A struggle at the 
point of contradiction will initially straddle class barriers in terms of who 
struggles and who is the enemy. On an immediate level the struggle is often 
against everyone involved in perpetuating an agreed upon 'nasty' part of 
consensus capitalism. In the case of live exports we have the farmer, the 
butcher, the truck driver, the transport company owner, all staff concerned at 
the port/ferry company. This enemy can then often merge into the rest of 
society for being too stupid to see this unpleasantness, as the concerned 
combatants become more concentrated in their thoughts and actions and go 
off burning down dairies etc. 

Consensus capitalism obviously affects many of those who are struggling, as 
there seems to be an infection of the opinion that we can just get rid of the 
unpleasant bits of capitalism. This is why the term 'point of contradiction' is 
suggested rather than 'point of unpleasantness'. A contradiction implies that 
the whole system needs to continue exploiting humans and resources to keep 
functioning, an unpleasantness implies that we can just do a bit of tinkering 
here and there... 

[A discussion on the escalation of the hedonist tendency is given elsewhere.] 


7 




8. Back to the Future (the battle for reality). 


For vehement anti-marxists the truth is plain to see. Marx based his ideas on 
what he predicted would happen, we are rooted in present day reality 
(advanced capitalism) and the struggles we wish to address are the ones that 
directly affect us. But we cannot deny Marx's initial enquiry. That he choses to 
analyse the system rather than the parts, that he chose to make a pure 
science out of it and enter the guessing game, and that official marxism is 
something totally distorted : these are things we should be capable of 
adaressing_ If we accept the nature of our proletarianisation then all struggles 
can be defined and resolved within this sphere... but we must always look 
towards capitalism for the answer. 

diagram 4 : The single issue analysis. 


APPARENT REALITY ? - CONSENSUS CAPITALISM - ACTUAL REALITY? 



ACTUAL REALITY ? - THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM - APPARENT REALITY? 


But these struggles do ask questions about the nature of our society - and 
they do confirm that it is our labour that constructs this society under the 

fra l ^ manC l °f+L he c . lass - To move these new struggles towards the 

framework of the oldI marxist struggle would represent a huge leap - we would 

nf RfJf lde ? °/ the tl ? reat of withdrawl of labour with the simple necessity 
of the withdrawl of our labour to create the world we want to live in. 


8 
















It is the complex dynamic of the single issue that prevents this. First and 
foremost the make-up of those struggling is of a cross class nature. If we 
define the middle class by their attitudes, opinions and ways and means of 
acting (and not just on some mythical continuum of salary or management 
position) then we can see the problem not as the number of middle class who 
populate a struggle, but as the inevitable rising to the top of their actions, 
ideas and expressions within the struggle. This in turn will always see a cross 
class enemy as it becomes blinded by the increased passion of the intricacies 
of the single issue. It is here where capital sees the solution to some of these 
new struggles... the spectre of communitarianism haunts the revolutionary 
movement. 

[end] 

This is based on a talk we gave at the Northern Anarchist Network meeting in 
June 1995. We intended to initiate a bit of debate around Marxism and its 
relevence to the new struggles. The previous day had seen some dogmatic 
anti-marxist viewpoints expressed so this made our talk potentially more 
interesting. 

Our talk was followed by a talk on the dynamics of some of the new struggles 
presented by a comrade who is actively involved in some of these struggles. 
We were not intending to erect sides to defend through the discussion, we 
only wanted to hear other viewpoints. 

The response was very mixed. Many people were keen to talk about the 
struggles they were involved in (eg roads, raving, animals). We felt that the 
point of what we were trying to deliver was not grasped. One comrade 
suggested that we used too many codewords, while another gave a 
regurgitated warning about dabbling with Marx. A couple of varying 
viewpoints did emerge including a rampaging speech on class separatism 
from a comrade who had "been through it all before". 

For those interested, we did not include the section on primitivism as a good 
discussion on this was held the previous day as part of a workshop on anti¬ 
industrial struggles. It is included here because we feel it is an important area. 



400 

300 

200 

100 


Reach in the horizontal plane 

(The distances shown can be reached by 95% of women) 









Some Questions for the Anarchist Movement. 


After a certain amount of time elapses during which most questions asked 
remain unanswered so begins a period when all writing and discussion leaves 
these same unanswered questions unasked. This represents the ultimate 
deadzone of critical activity. Of course the Trotskyists can claw their credibility 
within this mire by their usual tactic of answering all the questions that they so 
purposely construct. Even the SWP with their 'open meetings' field a series of 
questions from the spectators only to answer the ones they know they can. 
Their common criticism of the anarchist movement was that anarchists 
couldnt agree on anything, and would argue all year over a bar of soap. Now 
we arent the ones claiming to be the top-dog dialecticians but didnt Marx 
once mention something about thesis, antethesis, and synthesis. Other 
comrades tell me that people are becoming disillusioned with politicians and 
the whole way of the doing things, that anarchism is just around the corner. 
To these comrades, and to the Trots, I must confess to admitting that I think 
there needs to be many more questions asked and many more 
disagreements brought to bear before we can even begin thinking about both 
the revolutionary process and destination. 

It would be interesting to begin with a consideration of how we can examine 
current society, of how we can embark on this revolutionary journey. We have 
argued elsewhere about the dangers of fetishizing an analysis of the system 
of capitalism, as if it were some monolithic, dehumanized and rotten structure 
belching and steaming in the midst of some unchartered desert. It is common 
to assume this system of capitalism and its accompanying system of class 
structures. From here a system-centred approach would only project that we 
should all strive to understand the system of capitalism, to realise its injustice, 
and to eventually destroy it. What is less pleasureable to admit is that the 
system of capitalism has attempted to stop us realising its basic nature... it is 
at this point of realisation that the autonomist method can climax in its 
usefulness to be left gasping for air. What is needed is an attempt to 
understand the dynamics of the people in the system, but to analyse from a 
class perspective. I can sympathise with Subversion and their anti- 
sociological approach, whereby they argue that what is important is class 
struggle as a dynamic category and not as a static thing. But it is perhaps 
better for revolutionaries to 'realise and suppress' the science of sociology. 
Sociology has its use in contemporary capitalist society - it is just the 
academic term for market research in the battle for new commodities or new 
strategies for plugging old commodities. Sociology has its use for us because 
it enables us to make our efforts as effective as possible... to offer the right 
contradictions at the right time and right place. 

Marx had his vision of the system consisting of the economic base and 
superstructure. I'm not sure what the current official marxist interpretation is 
of the relationship between base and superstructure, but I feel some notes 
can be made. The determination is not a 1-way process, and perhaps 
anarchists understand this more than bonehead economic determinists. Yes, 
the base shapes the superstructure, but the superstructure exists to protect 
the base and deflect our revolutionary class consciousness, particularly in our 
age of rampant consumerism and rapid turnover of images to be treasured. 
However, screaming smash the system, smash the state advances us little 
further. But how can we approach the questions of analysing the human 
dynamics of capitalism? 

For a start it would be possible to consider an analysis from both the top 
down and from the bottom up, and attempt to link the two dialectically. Marx's 


10 



analysis of the system pushed him into appearing to examine the human side 
of capitalism from the top down, and this opinion is still held by many left and 
anarchist revolutionaries complete with its original short-sightedness. Of 
course, the better marxists will tell you that Marx never did get round to 
assembling his book on proletarianization, that the notes got subsumed into 
Capital. 

So what do the ruling class get out of the capitalist system? Well, on an 
obvious level, it would be free access to an unlimited supply to all the fruits of 
our labours (the commodities we produce) and all the space and time in the 
world to 'enjoy' them. The classic approach from here is to argue against the 
injustice of such a system, and to ramble on about readressing the 'haves 
and the have-nots'. Recent thought has been towards scrapping this idea 
along with the myth that the material conditions of our society are, by 
necessity of progress, extremely rich. Whilst the ideas of primitive 
communism are very useful, they need to be understood more fully. I will pick 
up this thread later. The ruling class also enjoy the privilige of power over 
other individuals. Anarchists have always been keen to denounce power, but 
perhaps less keen to hunt out where power lies within the system and less 
keen to suggest methods of fighting it. Of course there is good power, such 
as the power to have control over ones actions and the power of learning 
knowledge and ability, and there is bad power such as the power over other 
individuals. This power is like a drug - it leaves you wanting more and more, 
and forces you to strech what power you have to the most obscene limits. In 
the news is the naughty reverend in Sheffield with his 'rave church' and the 
revelations of sexual abuse, which he then topped up by demanding 
£100,000 from the press for the official scoop. Power can never be justified, 
there is no shift in the scales come judgement day. Many Trots are 
downtrodden individuals who fancy a crack at holding the whip, and keeping 
hold of it. The bloody revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat will 
abolish power, making bad power no longer useful or acceptable and good 
power part of our everyday lives. It will not simply turn it around for the benefit 
of those at the front of the vanguard. 

Finally capitalism provides the ruling class with a reason for living... that is the 
thrill of the challenge of increasing profit. In some respects this can turn the 
nature of crisis theory on its head, in that the higher the stakes, the more the 
adrenalin flows. This was the nature of the film 'Wall Street'. For a long time, 
the controlling sections of our society have been trying to dope the horses 
when they place their bets. This is the revelation of Debord's "Society of the 
Spectacle" - everything turns to the scramble for guaranteeing where we 
spend our wages, what we talk about, etc. The perpetual stream of 
advertising is the pinnacle of a system that desires us to love the ones we 
should hate, to aspire to be like them by attaining all the right commodities 
and the snippets of power that go with them. It becomes increasingly clear 
that the 'happiness' exhibited by the ruling class is either the happiness of 
power crazy scumbags or the happiness of actors in a perfume commercial. 
Zombies / Flesh eaters : the separation perfected! 

So an analysis from the top down leaves us with more questions than 
answers, and perhaps has to be synthesised with its opposite analysis to give 
us the move forward. Examining society from the bottom up is traditionally the 
anarchist approach. This concentrates on our lives as proletarians, 
particularly the positive aspects of our coming together. We must make no 
excuses to say that we live in ideal social conditions, or that we live in social 
conditions amongst our class that can be realised in an ideal future society. 
We have to make do in absurd circumstances - there is undoubtedly some 
positive aspects to emerge that would only be part of our everyday living in a 


11 


-e» ;o=e-. .'.'•■at many anarchists stress is that these moments can be the 
r - 9 - :=<s ' or a new society - it is however the icing on the cake that is 

ess ess. to speculate about. 

J^. r€rS :- Where we can be 9 in . t0 understand the ways forward and the false 
2 ' 5!n 9 fronri a synthesis of these two approaches. I would like to 
-e.etop two areas - firstly some of the ideas of primitivism, and secondly 
seme or the problems of conceptual (ir)relevence. 

The main problem facing us is the difficulty of describing a future society or 
ot describing the elements of a process that can deliver us to this society 
when we only have the tools and techniques moulded in our everyday 
existanee Whilst this is not impossible, we have to be prepared to question 
the myth that the material conditions we live in are developed in our favour 
out of a neutral process called progress. And if we question this myth and 
chose to reject it we cannot simply adopt primitivism as the answer by rootinq 
our visions in a very early period (eg the stone age). The true history of 
progress has been denied us - this would be a development of our intellect 
our entertainment, our ingenuity free from the chains of capital We cannot 
postulate about some parallel universe that branches off at the beginninq of 
capitalism - this is left to the utopian sci-fi writers that can fill our eyes with 
I63rS. 

Concerning the ideas of conceptual relevence I can only offer more problems! 

1 P° sltlvlt y °.^ be anarchist project arises from the analysis from the bottom 
up - the unspoken rule is not to tell people what to do but to show there are 
better ways of doing better things. This utilises the positivity of our social 
conditions while rewriting the conceptions of our material conditions 
However, we nave many hindrances in this task, not least the instruments of 
control that interpret and mediate our actions to the rest of our class. What I 
mean by conceptual relevence is by how our actions positively relate to our 
fellow proletarians after being screened through this mediation process It is a 
very delicate balance of forces. It is possible for many individuals and groups 
to live a life as far removed from their definition of capitalism as to confidently 
consider themselves as having escaped it. There is a recurring process of 
rejecting, refusing, rebuilding etc until an apparent success is reached. But as 
we strive to exemplify new ways of living we can become less and less 
relevant to proletarians struggling within the system - the practice of dumpster 
diving as a ’revolutionary’ tactic is a worrying sign of such a bridge of 
relevence being overstretched. For every effort that strives towards leavinq 
capitalism success is rewarded by moving further away from a miserable 
code of society and yet it is also ’rewarded' by moving further away in terms 
of relevence, from those you are trying to illuminate with your ideas ’ Similarly 
worrying is the concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones and their hipness in 
the USA. All these represent is some kind of democratic balance to the 
aforementioned problems where a certain percentage of the population are 
influenced to such an extent to move totally outside of (but not necessarilv 
against) capitalism. 1 

Conceptual relevence is further complicated by its rooting in aesthetics and 
its screening via the mediating processes. Much of modern society is seen 
through its symbolism and aesthetic values, because these are the easiest 
thmgs to grab at when the product is sold (again, see the writing of Debord 
etc). The battle for conceptual relevence oftens resorts to appealing via new 
aesthetic values, which can often excite those not involved in the process into 
giving it a go. However, if a new way of living can be interpreted throuqh 
symbolic gestures and aesthetic values then this same way of living can be 


12 






easily recuperated by capitalism. Recent history is a catalogue of such 
disasters. 

On a positive note it would seem that the game of recuperation is a high risk 
strategy, each advance of recuperation pushing the whole system closer to 
the abyss. This is not a proposal for a new form of cultural (rather than 
economic) crisis theory, but a serious question. But recuperation cannot be 
underestimated - it is a formidable opponent. Capitalism knows better than to 
put all its eggs in one basket in the hunt for surplus value. At times it will 
spend more energy and resources on reassessing our strategies and 
spreading a kind of cultural disinformation. For instance - consider the 
practices of new agery, spiritualism and their transformation to the sole focus 
of the middle class... a coup that both neutralizes the radical potential of 
these practices and the radical potential of the middle class. 

Conceptual relevence also relates to the current problems manifested in both 
the base and the superstructure, and it would be reasonable to suggest that 
as these problems intensify and as recuperation reaches its limit and begins 
to backfire on itself, then revolutionary change may appear closer to hand. 
The Poll Tax was a recent problem that rooted itself in both the base and 
superstructure, however it didnt go far enough before it was nipped in the bud 
: for a fleeting moment the principle of refusal was in everybodys heads! The 
struggle against the CJA is as close to a breakdown in the superstructure that 
we have seen. Road protesting is becoming a way of living for many people, 
giving new reasons for and new ways of living. This is becoming increasingly 
relevent to large contingents of the raving movement, who are in turn highly 
relevent to bored proletarians, who are in turn rejecting the age old practice of 
fighting amongst themselves (based on appearance punks were beaten up, 
ravers arent!). This is only a thread of what is possible... there is much work 
to be done. 


































WORKPLACE STRUGGLE Vs 
COMMUNITY STRUGGLE 


0. Situating the Discussion 

1. What is Community Struggle? 

(i) Physical Characteristics 

(ii) Non-physical Characteristics 

2. Community Struggle - Its Rise to Popularity 
(i) The Anti Poll Tax Struggle 

(ii) The Criminal Justice Bill 

(iii) A Reaction to Workplace Struggle 

3. Balancing Arguments 

(i) Work and Consumption 
(ii) Alienation and Socialisation 

4. Moving Forward? 

(i) Community and Workplace today 
(ii) Bringing them together or breaking definitions? 



Glooigerina a foraminiferan 










nrroduction... 

"his article was put together with the intention of it being used at a subversion meet¬ 
ing. it was initiated by a letter I sent to comrades at Subversion attempting to open 
up a debate on ideas of workplace and community struggles, and particularly on the 
dangers of opening up such a separation and of placing an emphasis on one whilst 
limiting the other. 

The letter I sent is available from communist Headache though it is not particularly 
well put together, subversion gave a brief reply and invited communist Headache to 
their meeting, asking me to come prepared with a contribution, as it was I never 
managed to finish this work before the meeting, however the meeting was less for¬ 
mal than l expected, and the subject matter ranged over a number of topics. There 
,vere no particular strong disagreements amongst the ensemble, and both ourselves 
=nd Subversion benefitted from the discussion. 

*nus, this document is an expansion of the letter to Subversion, giving it reconsidera- 
::on in terms of subject and style, and expansion in certain subjects. This document is 
'elevant to our other publications, particularly some of the articles in our first col- 
•ected works covering anti-social crime, economy, and other such things. Some points 
~3de here are better expanded in these articles, or can be reconsidered in a new 
ght. 

'-is document is not a polemic with a specific line, it is a cry for some critical discus- 
2, on of how we see the class struggle, what we see as effective, and how to bring 
-rout this effectivity. 



Actinosphaerium : a heliozoan 





0. Situating the discussion. 

Capitalism is an unfair system, a system that cannot be made fair in any way. Those of us who work 
in the production industry are paid a wage to produce goods that are sold for a greater value than our 
wages. As the bosses take our surplus value into the markets to make it into more money we are left 
to buy our survival using the wages we are paid. As these markets operate on what is most profitable 
different companies compete to make us spend our piffling wages on what they tell us to : the victors 
in this struggle being the capitalists who have invested in this demand. For us life is a struggle, for 
them life is a gamble. But while they always have the access to the accumulation of our labours, we 
only have access to the dazzling advertisers telling us what to do. the media telling us that it is all ok. 
and the market researchers and sociologists checking we are faiiing in to line. 

Because this system is unfair it inevitably creates misery. Capitalisms great trick is to hide this misery 
by telling us that everything is ok and the best we can do is to go on working to earn the money to 
buy the commodoties it tells us to buy. The real cause of our misery - the years we spend toiling in 
the workplace seeing our bodies rot before our eyes and our minds shrivel up through the continued 
cancellation of tomorrow when we can freely express and satisfy our desires - is thus transformed 
into the means for a remedy for this misery ie the pursual of wages to enable us to bury ourselves in 
commodities. In effect, the misery stems from the hours each day we spend at work, but is 
experienced accross every waking (and sleeping for some people) minute of the day. 

Those of us, who through our need to get to the bottom of our misery, have made an effort to 
understand communist ideas in the critique of capitalist economics, know that the destruction of the 
capitalist system is the destruction of the system of exchange, and the claiming of the workplaces to 
satisfy our real needs and desires. But our real needs and desires can never be satisfied until we are 
in a position to assess them, and to do that we need to understand how the capitalists manipulate the 
misery we feel every minute of our lives to keep us dominated, alienated and atomised. The struggle 
at the point of production is the necessity for communist revolutionaries, because it is here that 
capitalism has its foundations - however the struggle for communism must also involve searching for 
points where this misery we feel cannot be repressed any longer and opening up the wounds, and 
understanding how the dominating class manages to keep this misery from surfacing everywhere. 

It is a difficult task to forge together these two methods, and history shows that the revolutionary 
subjects of our class often move from one to another. The present situation sees us with such a clear 
understanding of how capitalist economics functions that certain elements of our class have 
developed ideas in a marxist vaccuum and cling to a crisis theory based on the falling rate of profit. 
Other elements of our class have invested their interests in the idea of community struggle - partly 
because some marxists have become religious with their crisis theory, and partly because numbers of 
our class have started to struggle beyond the workplace. 

This is a study of community struggles and a critique of what they are represented as. To move 
forward, we need to bring these 2 struggles together, and this hopefully goes someway towards 
gaining an understanding of how we can acheive this. 

1. What is Community Struggle? 

(i) Community - Physical Characteristics. 

The community I will first consider is the community based on the terrain where we live. When we are 
not working this is where the majority of us base our lives, particularly those of us concerned with 
families. It is here that the comrades of Subversion argued against the effectivity of a class struggle 
when they stated that an area on a map is inevitably going to include local shops and businesses. 
This assumption is based on an emphasis on the physical characteristics of a community - ie the 
community as defined by perimeters such as roads, or by a similarity of architectural type. etc. What 
makes a community is not just this physical characteristic, but the behaviour and the relationships of 
the members included within this (physically defined) community. Obviously the revolutionary 
potential of the community does depend on the physical characterises for the simple reason that the 
close proximity of the revolutionary elements is vital 

It is however worth examining the physical characteristics of defining a community as they interact 
with capitalism, and, as Subversion say, most of the working class live everywhere. Whilst this is true, 
it is also true that certain communities are very run down or badly designed in the first place, and are 
basically undesirable places to live. For a start it is the middle class that designed these communities 
and it is the middle class that perpetuate the idea of snobbery in relation to the areas where we live. 
Snobbery is very much a middle class phenomenom (in fact it is a non physical characteristic of the 


16 







middle class community), but it is a useful toci in keeping us divided and creating the appearance of a 
relief from the misery we feel. The shiftiest estates in and around cities are usually full cf these most 
disposessed - the unemployed, the low paid, the ex-criminals, single parents - and capitalists have 
these nicely sewn up with sociologists creating the convenient idea of the underclass and the media 
doing its job in creating the underclass stereotype. That this person is only trying to live in an area 
that is badly designed, neglected by the ’caring arms cf the state and constantly oppressec and 
spyed on by the other side of the state (coppers. social workers.etci is not taken into account. But 
what is created is a hierarchy of desirability for living areas from the bottom up. where the underclass 
at the bottom are responsible for their miserable estates. Capitalists drive to get us to worship money 
and see everything as value is reflected in this hierarchy. It is quite often seen solely in terms of 
house pnees. where the desirability of an area is measured by the house prices, and not the house 
prices refeiecting a desirability based cn dean air. ccen scaces. attractive architecture, etc. 


People are limited to where they can live by what they can afford {either renting or mortgaging; ana 
they generally live in an area that reflects a maximum limit to their available monetary resources. This 
is done by the middle class who have salaries accross a vast range, and so they can fill in the levels 
of this hierarchy of desirability (of course not occupying the lower levels). That they have opportunity 
for promotion and increased wages means they can move up this hierarchy and eventually live in 
areas where they have designed" their own hemes {important note here is that they are built by our 
ciass and so we should never be maae to fear the ruins of a vioient revolution as Durritti keenly 
pointed out. even though aiienatea activity makes us fear the ruins). Snobbery exists as the middle 
class sneering at us working class, and as the middle class taking out their pathetic ana vindictive 
behaviour on each other. This snobbery is filtered down to us working class who dont have so much 
upward mobility in our wages so the working class who live in the most desirable areas relative to 
their income are all pretty much in the same boat when it comes to struggling finacially to pay the bills 
and clothe the kids. 


However this fact is usually swept aside to maintain the aura of this snobbery we have caught from 
the middle class. The answer is not to fetishize the communities in the grimmest areas of town 
because it is here where the 'true' working class iive. The majority of those in these areas will actively 
and openly struggle against their misery and disocsessicn because they have fuck all to lose, while 
the working class in the more desirable communities have the appearances of snobbery to lose 
(regardless of the fact that they are equally disposessed). We must understand that the community 
struggle will arise in these estates and we must support these struggles and spread them to other 
'more desirable' areas by attacking the idea of snobbery (which is easier said than donei. Unless we 
acheive this then all we will see will be the idea and the justification of the idea of the underclass 
rooting itself in the working class as the cycle of violence in these estates escalates threugn police 
provocation and police violence. 





(ii) Commu nity - Mental Characteristics 

h 2 rn us ' n .9 ° nl V the previous characteristic in that the owners of local businesses exploit I 

samp n^n'r^H ,C K ,a 2 y . a leSS desirable one ' do not live in that community Th"s poinHI^made in thl 
same paragraph by Subversion who argue about travelling to work as yet another disc'aimpr fnr 
community struggle. However, I am not trying to prove anyone wrong or^^ghf In th°s ^dy ) 

What I will consider are the mental characteristics of a community as it is these that pnahie th« 

oppr ess| om Whats more, they can manipulate misery against itself to save themselves the inh nf 

anri rrinM\ h a WO rst elements ( Ie those members of our class caught up in cycles of n 0 vertv debt 
and crime). A strong community would be ideal for keeping misery at bay but capitalism doesm havP 
use for a strong community. Those who are ruthless in their search for profi wif ™ o mS 
rlm„ e n^T th ' n9 ant) h a ?y. thin 9 - a "9 5° 'he commonalities that used to ad“aSher deffniton to 

donte d ,i nt tn t ^^° 9 ' C ^ P^^'s^^etshtft^exchanget/afues^ancftmarkef^ce^Thts^ectLely 

funchon and so the capitalists can turn surplus value into more profit That it also ooets up another 

logic of exchange and money and we are left with individualism and consumerism 

i he point to make here is that the left can only promise us the other path - ie we work verv hard and 
fhX^ “'her path actually exists under 

£y c r^T n ru P n t‘r ,asTS) s®,-; sssssr^ 

sentence® there is^dtffere'nre'heta 001 a ^ Cr0SS S C l aSS distinc,i0n wh,ch ' s inSeZ the prcvfous 
?nnnH i iff- ' !!? ® a d,ffer e n ce between those who have had the (financial) means to experience the 
good life and now choose to reject it and those who are struggling in the poverty trap and unahlp tn 
appreciate the ’good life'. While I am concerned here with the latercategory P a fin a S workiw class 

^SiSSTKa’ •"-'■"SSfSMS 

liXS S»S JSS IS T, ££ZS?£\£SrjSz£ KSS «? 

nm P sp a nt S ? u ^ theSe W ° rSe ° ff e ' ementS t0 crea,e a hierarch V from «w^ bottom up Thus in the 
P ^ s y stem ’. consumerism and individualism is supported by those who have been denied ! t 

* *•* ^ 'ucky stars L^Tn^ 

thistendency ^ ^ n6C “ 8#! ' ° f 3ee '" 9 str ^le that piSMKSS 

So. based on the fact that capitalism cannot perfect itself and eradicate misery it is these mental 

^nhdarih rlStlC f °! °!f communrty that become important. I will include the following characteristics - 
solidarity, mutual aid, co-operation, desire for communication and organisation within such mutual aid 
lear J?' n9 and “"demanding These characteristics arise®as a reactioTto the m^w of 
capitalism, and so aim to combat this misery It is when they combat the misery produce!? bv 

force 3 IMSTevoki'tinna^ 9 f ° r concess,ons fr ° m cepitalism itself that they become li revolutionary 
misIraL ,t sees Sh , ma t 7 Ways ,hat " sees throu 9 h the capitalist denial of life being 
capitalistexchangeand tZSSSTxV ^ 3685 "° USe ,or 


18 





Those communities worse off have large numbers of people who fight for solidarity, mutual aid. etc. 
This fight is made even more passionate because of the circumstances of the community - increasing 
anti-social crime, increasing attacks from the state. It is this 'spirit' that cannot be broken. This spirit is 
what holds together those sharing childminding, the redistribution of stolen goods (and stealing 
techniques!), lending an ear and sharing problems, organised protection from police/bailiff/state 
hassle. The working class in the communities dominated by the middle class still have this spirit born 
into practical action through misery - though this practical action is often co-ordinated with (and 
eventually by) the middle class acting mainly out of guilt. Revolutionaries draw different conclusions 
from this - for my part I think it is important to realise that the middle class can only feel guilt and it is 
up to us to turn this guilt into a working class anger. This would obviously involve them chucking in 
their lot with the capitalist work machine (whether they are involved with owning the means of 
production or implementing the process of domination - again, see our discussion on middle class 
struggle). But they are infected with the 'problems' of middle-class-ness and they can often bring their 
natural 'leadership, bubbling confidence and unquestioned snobbery to our working class spirit while 
refusing to see this rotten society for what it actually is. 

2. Community Struggle - the return to popularity. 

Numerous articles in revolutionary magazines, and even the whole 'methodology' of revolutionary 
organisations, have been drifting towards an analysis of community struggle (in the organisational 
sens e see the Class War Federations "Unfinisfed Business"). A cynical approach would be to 
highlight a weakness in the revolutionary class struggle movement, suggesting that it can only flicker 
between a position of being stuck in orthodox marxism and a position of trying to interpret struggles 
actually taking place beyond the workplace as part of some inbuilt populism (though recently an 
analysis of the Bradford disturbances harked back to Bonnano's neo-anarchism). Whereas we can 
see the Trotskyists acknowledging other struggles they also either dismiss them as worthless (usually 
when they are worker-less!) or try to bend them into their workerist reality. A populist approach would 
be little better as it would suggest that we have no ideas of what struggle is and how and where it 
arises. The neo-anarchist approach of the’excluded / included' can sometimes fall into this trap - all 
that can really be said to this is the obvious fact that cause of conflict (class system etc) and 
manifestation of troubles (excluded/included etc) are often distinct but should not be ignored... tying 
them together is what we are interested in. But it is obvious that times are changing, even the CWO 
have taken an interest in the anti CJB struggle 1 

To have a theory of every minute detail of what is likely to happen as society struggles on under 
capitalist rule is wishful thinking, though it is no reason to refuse to make a maximum effort to 
consider all possibilities. As this task is undertaken it is possible to gain a better understanding of how 
capitalism shapes the minds of our class, and what aspects of the capitalist machinery apply pressure 
to which places. Though we should never tell people how to think, or indeed how not to think, it is 
crucial to show new ways of doing things through our own activity and of stripping away the barriers 
that hide the fact that people are indeed being told how to think. A debate on this is beyond the 
context of this short study, but it is worth bearing it in mind as I outline a few of the main factors in the 
resurggence of the community struggle and its interpretations by revolutionaries. 

(i) The Anti Poll Tax Struggle. 

The anti poll tax struggle has been the principle factor in this swing towards community struggles, it 
certainly caused a deal of argument amongst the Trots who doomed it to failure unless it was 
organised in the workplace. The struggle was a success in that it defeated its object, but it wasnt 
without problems that have seldom been addressed. The generalised refusal of legality and the 
proletarian offensive on Trafalgar Square now seems something in the distant past. Perhaps those 
longing for a struggle not dominated by the straightjacket of workerism were swept away with the 
grandeur of the whole thing and couldnt prevent the struggle from becoming a victim of its own 
success. 

In the beginning there was the rates system. . I do not have any articles on the general resistance to 
-a:es payment, though I suspect these existed on the poorer estates in cities along with resistance to 
-e-: arrears related evictions. Certainly 10 years ago in Sheffield you could enjoy enhanced services 
s_rn as free swimming and leisure, citywide 5p buses and heavily subsidised 'arts'. Though there isnt 
a.-.'.'-ing revolutionary about this, it certainly makes life more bearable. Sheffield in recent years has 
sa"ec an unsteady course due to vast expenditure on the World Student Games and the amenities 
arc faolities network has collapsed - the anarchist position of 'smash the state' can sound a bit hollow 
m-er t lacks an analysis of the modern state and the safety net it provides. This is something we 
Etonpc to address elsewhere with our discussion on the local library strike. 


19 





As I outlined earlier, capitalists live by greed and will attack a stabilized (and so hard working) 
community in search of more outlets for profit raising, they also have the means to raise support for 
most of their actions The Poll Tax was an attack on the state in the form of making those who 
depended most on the state for survival (ie the poorest) pay for what they use. Thus everyone had to 
pay a flat rate as they were democratically entitled to equal use of the state, and the councils who 
operated a generous policy (like Sheffield) were savagely cut down because they werent allowed to 
set higher rates. Two things happened - the poor got the prospect of feeling their poverty to the max. 
and the facilities on offer dwindled. The dwindling of facilities has a positive argument in that it forces 
people to satisfy their own desires as a community, but this is difficult when it is something like free 
swimming for you and 3 screaming kids and all the local rivers are polluted or on private land. 
However, the community spirit was hardened and the Poll Tax was pushed upon an angry and 
organised section of the proletariat - the poorest in the poorest communities. For these people it 
should seem obvious that the community was the best place to organise (not least because most of 
them were out of work or between spells of unemployment in shit jobs). 

The majority of the working class in the slightly better living areas were hit directly in their pockets. 
The preaching of consumerism and individualism meant that people, as individuals, were suddenly 
less able to partake in their previous level of consumption. Many came together as individual 
consumers and organised in the community because that is where they exhibit their consumption. To 
many the workplace is just the means of facilitating this 
consumption. 

To organise in the workplace also would have been useful, only if to make the connection between 
production and consumption (considered later), but organising in the community occurred because 
either the links were strong there already or that people were attacked as individual consumers. 
However, the refusal of payment of the Poll Tax suddenly became very symbolic of a kind of general 
protest at the current state of affairs - a protest that drifts from issue to issue but is always contained 
(eg animal welfare at the moment). Thus many guilt driven middle class people could join in the 
protest without considering the reasons why they were protesting beyond the symbolism of the Poll 
Tax. The positive aspect was the sudden refusal of legality that came with the Poll Tax, but there is a 
feeling that this refusal was acted out mainly by individuals attaining the right appearance in a 
community that thrived on something symbolic. As a comrade says - there was an acceptance of the 
slogan 'proud to be a non-payer' but not the slogans 'proud to be a shoplifter’ or 'proud to be a meter 
fiddler'. It is imperative that we make the most of these 'conceptual links' to a new way of living - most 
of the time our actions are judged by people through the eyes of the dominant system. The Poll Tax 
was a wasted opportunity for us to catch the system with its guard down - only highlighted by the 
difficulties that the struggles against VAT on fuel encountered in getting off the ground. A debate on 
symbolism and aesthetics in the class struggle would be welcome here. 

(ii) The Criminal Justice Bill (and all that). 

The most prominent struggles around the criminal justice bill have been the anti road development 
struggles and the concerns expressed by various groups of ravers and animal rights activists. That 
this ties in with the idea of community struggle is highlighted in a number of ways. Firstly the struggles 
against road developments have involved an element of the commonality discussed earlier (though 
we must understand that so did the 'build the bypass now' struggles!). Twyford Down was considered 
as an example of the ubiquitously called "area of outstanding natural beauty" (a phrase that makes all 
good communists reach for the sick bag), but to the working class involved in the struggle it was 
considered as a commonality. This is a last grasp back to the idea of the community with its 
commonalities, and is perhaps an indication of the total obliteration of existing commonalities in inner 
city communities (that is if you can enjoy them for the poisonous atmosphere created by exhaust 
fumes). The anti Mil struggle was very similar in its appearance. Wanstead is a good example of an 
inner city community, and driving a motorway right through the middle of it is enough to raise the 
anger of even the most hardened individualised consumer with their "haven of a telly and a well- 
bolted door". It is interesting that the struggle involved the symbolic use of trees on George Green 
again harking back to the idea of ownerless commonalities. Whether this is significent of a weakened 
community with an absence of strong characteristics like mutual aid, or of a very strong community 
with a keen sense of class history is another point to consider. What is more important is the strength 
and character of the community built in the process of struggle. 

The hunt-sabs and ravers represent a different kind of community, different from the communities I 
have discussed and different from each other. They are both examples of people coming together 
based solely on their interests and desires. Hunt-sabs are representative of a larger community of 
people coming together to share their revulsion at the absence of compassion towards animals, 
ravers are people coming together to enjoy the carnival of lights, music and atmosphere outside of 
what passes for entertainment in the dominant mainstream. Both are communities based on an 


20 










interest and both are revolutionary to a certain extent (hence their attention from the CJA), hunt-sabs 
in that they share an interest in challenging an aspect of capitalism, and ravers in that they share a 
need to control and develop the fulfillment of their entertainment. I would suggest that all communities 
of interest groups have some revolutionary potential in that they create and attempt to fulfill their own 
desires, or that they challenge some aspect of capitalism. This is done to different degrees and may 
include a combination of both. For example, you could consider a wildlife group more 'revolutionary' 
than a hunt-sab group because they both challenge an aspect of capitalism (animal abuse) but the 
wildlife group also offer the self-fulfillment of needs (the pleasure of observing and understanding 
nature without messing it up). Of course the hunt-sabs are more direct with their affront to an aspect 
of capitalism, but this serves to illustrate some of the problems encountered by these types of 
communmties - namely restraint, recuperation and misplacement. 

Dealing with the latter first. I am considering desires that may seen totally worthless pursuits and 
rooted only in the relief from misery. I am not denying that it is positive to express a need to escape 
from the misery of everyday life, but travelling to dismal depot yards in Crewe to collect the numbers 
written on the sides of trains is just our alienation laughing back at us. However, we have no authority 
on deciding what is useful to people and what is a symptom of alienation, but hopefully things would 
straighten out as we increase the communist class consciousness 

Recuperation is the proces whereby capitalism turns round those elements of resistance into the 
general mire of capitalism. In an age of media saturation, hungry markets (they are always hungry) 
and image consciousness, it is quite easily to turn a community struggling from the misery of 
consumption/production to a community that has its actual 'spirit' of being together replaced by 
material identification. It is a particularly cruel ability of capitalism to be able to turn the desire to be 
apart from capitalism into part of capitalism itself. 

Restraint is related to recuperation, in that a recuperated desire is a desire under restraint. But 
capitalism has the ability to develop things that are antagonistic to its continued survival as a means 
to expand its available markets for exploitation Two examples : the DIY ethic in the punk community 
was tolerated to enable new fashions and images to appear, the hooliganism element in football 
supporting was played on to enable football (and fashion) to attract the young adventurers. 

These different ideas need to be played off against both the relevence of a community (and 
particularly its aesthetics) and the conceptual links to the mainstream (and their aesthetics). Also the 
spirit of adventure and bucaneering that anti-capitalist activities can foster - you only need to look at 
the sabs and the political soldiers of AFA. BNP. etc 

Some communities of interest are situated on dodgy ground when they operate strict individual 
exclusion policies. "You wouldnt understand because youre not gay / not able to feel remorse / not a 
vegan / etc etc" These groups often end up appealing to the state or the culture industry for 
recognition and change. 

The struggle against road developments can encompass all of these different communities. For 
instance the Mil campaign involved many poor folks living and working in the Wanstead area, and 
the struggle against the M77 extension in Scotland is being hyped up as a struggle of the proper 
working class because the area under encroachment is particularly rundown council housing. Certain 
protestors have made the struggle against all road development their main reason for living and have 
formed a new community of interest (and excitement) - choosing to set up home in the trees around 
threatened areas and enjoy the simple life and solidarity of like minded individuals. This implies the 
need to distinguish between a purely hedonistic tendency and a concerted effort to overcome 
capitalism, and beyond this answer the problems of aesthetics such as those associated with new 
agery and their irrelevence and hostility to your average proletariat. Class War inadvertantly 
highlighted this problem with their request to leave your juggling balls at home when attending the anti 
CJB demo! 

The struggle against road developments does provide an opportunity to see how the whole of 
capitalism is moving, and we should link our critiques to an understanding of how the car is promoted 
as the pinnacle of our alienated, individualist, consumerist lives and of how industry is moving on to a 
system of dispersed fordism which involves a swift traffic infrastructure as well as a more malleable 
workforce. It is of course a class issue and an extremely complicated one at that - but it is not 
something we should dismiss or run away from (amidst the rampaging billboard liberators, critical 
massers. ashthma campaigners, etc Aufheben #3 and #4 provide very insightful articles). 


21 




(iii) A Reaction to Workplace Struggle? 


' ", T. *u u, *r immunity siruggies is me perceived failure of the 

workplace struggles and the need for a simple solution to this failure. Thus revolutionaries do not look 
at the strategies they develop for their workplace struggles, or consider how they have impressed 
themselves upon the workers, they abandon the practice altogether. The 1980 s were hard with the 
defeat of the miners at the back of everyones mind, though what has tended to happen has been a 
return to a faith in crisis theory or a reconsideration focussed solely on the unions as beinq either 
misread or a spoiling party. Whilst I think it is important to understand why unions are necessarily 
th's argument shouldnt be used as a shield to hide behind developing our critiques further 
(though it doesnt help when certain elements insist on defending rank and filism at all costs). 

The workplace struggle is dead... long live the workplace struggle! The capital / labour relationship 
antagonism is sure to crop up again, although the ferocity of it is open to question The strikinq 
community as exemplified by the miners struggle occurs periodically with recent examples beinq the 
In m tho ! n ? dlebr00 t k mushrooms strikes. The miners are unique. Coal doesnt grow on trees and 
so the workforce arent as flexible as is often the case in the current dispersed fordist situation The 

to S be 0 done are f eXlbie ’ 3nd at the moment that is bein 9 used t0 our disadvantage. There is much work 


3. Balancing the Arguments. 

(Q Work and Consumption. 

We work to create both goods and potential value for capitalists, we consume to help them make this 
money into more money. There is no isolated moment in our slavery under capitalism - we struggle at 
the point of production to create commodities and surplus value, and consume the commodities we 
have produced under the prompting of capitalist persuaders. The surplus value made in an industry is 
invested in other industries that are hopefully enjoying, or are about to enjoy, a boost in selling their 
goods and so meaning a boost in producing them and so a boost in ripping off a bit more surplus 
value from us back at the point of production. Decisions, decisions... where to invest surplus value 
what s going to be profitable, and so on. As I said earlier, for them lifes a gamble for us lifes a 
misery. 



Screen Position Relative to Overhead Lighting 
























































As I understand it crisis theory is based on the fact that us working class only have a limited amount 
of money to spend, and to keep up with competition from their competitors to make the best products 
the capitalist has to invest in new technologies at the point of prouction meaning a decrease in the 
possible amount of surplus value. Whether such a possibility is true has been a long debateable point, 
though what concerns me is the nature of this crisis. Regardless of what I have just explained, the 
crisis would be created because capitalists are greedy and compete with each other. And so it would 
be a crisis among the capitalists before it became a crisis of capitalism, and could be part way 
resolved by capitalists getting together and stopping competition between themselves. The capitalists 
would then be able to live in comfort on the fruits of our labour while we are content to buy back what 
we produce. I do not doubt that the capitalists would find it necessary to keep us dominated (power 
over fellow humans is an addictive drug), and that they may find it hard... but they would manage. So 
we have capitalism minus the gambling element - which is a fair enough definition of socialism. 

The point of this diversion is to illustrate the problems of thinking solely in terms of the point of 
production. A belief in crisis theory has its roots in this method, but I could envisage a way for 
captalism to get out of this crisis (if it came). Under the present situation it is hard to see proletarians 
seizing the means of production, and it is dangerous to convince ourselves that this may occur as 
capitalism enters into this perceived crisis. We would be metaphorically blind seizing the means of 
production without considering our desires and our patterns of consumption. It is only the Trotskyists 
who fight for such a situation and believe it can happen - this is based on the assumption that we can 
never achieve more than a trade union consciousness and so would be incapable of even 
contemplating our true desires beyond the world of commodity consumption. The Trotskyists have 
convinced themselves that they can convince us that they are the best thing for capitalism (even if 
they promise not to fight amongst themselves when they hold the reins of power like the crisis 
heading capitalists of today). 

Attempts to link a critique of work and consumption are seldom made. Community struggles could 
provide a way in for this as long as we dont go looking for simple solutions to why a strategy of 
organizing in the workplAce has apparently failed. The answer to the problems of organising 
effectively in the workplace does not come from organizing in the community - it comes from the 
understanding between the two and how they link together. Our desires and our social 
communicability dictate what we should produce, however in the arena of consumption our desires 
are satisfied by consuming what is put on offer, and we slave away at the point of production to earn 
the cash to buy these desired commodities. Because capitalists want to gamble their surplus values 
they put alot of effort into convincing us what our desires are. So we have to reclaim our capacity to 
decide on our desires, and then to directly produce the things needed to satisfy these desires. Thus 
as well as reclaiming the point of production, we need to abandon exchange and money for the 
irrelevence they are. 

This is a supremely difficult task. And so to look for simple solutions, or to hide our dismay at not 
succeeding, is not the best practice. 


If we consider Marx's classic rallying call "from each to their own ability, to each to their own needs'' 
under our analysis of production and consumption we can begin to understand the task ahead. In 
terms of production we live in a highly developed country where we have the machinery and the 
technology to easily produce as much as possible of as much as possible. Apart from the fact that 
this keeps the capitalists licking their lips, it has created 2 major problems for our class that seriously 
hinder any reality of our seizing the means of production (of course, we can always return to a faith in 
crisis theory, which in these terms would mean capitalists all choking in unison on the excess saliva 
produced from over licking their own lips!). Firstly, such a system of an excess of a myriad of mainly 
useless commodities can only exist if our capabilities to critically assess our true desires are totally 
taken away from us. Secondly, the configuration of the commodity producing industry has shifted to 
the effect that most of our class have no confidence in actually understanding what materials and 
orocesses go towards making goods and services we use in our everyday lives. With the rise of 
microchip technology this barrier to our liberation has been nearly perfected (so no - technology does 
^ot equal the death of capitalism as some marxists suggest). 

“rming back to Marx we can now gain a clearer understanding of the possible primitive communist 
progress) approach. To me, this would suggest that we would need to reclaim our ability to 
crreally assess our needs and desires, and to understand how we can fulfill them in the shell of 
rvxcsthalisation as it exists today. Thus, the workplace struggle would then have a clearer set of 
rcerr.es and it would be a safe bet that the industrial structures based around the workplaces would 
extensively dismantled. This argument for less amounts of less things is not just simply about 
*er.e — g time to live our own lives (as radical thinktanks like DEMOS would have us believe) - it is 
r^-cing about everything we do, the demands this places on our society and our own 
to rt. The alternative is to seize our workplaces as things exist at the moment and then to 




start the process of applying "from each to their own ability, to each to their own needs" as some 
nightmare iterative programme. 

(ii) Alienation and Socialisation. 

For Marx, the most crucial distinguishing feature of humanity was the capacity to produce. And so 
when Marx developed his theories of alienation it was often taken up to be alienation between man 
and his world from the fact that the proletariat didnt own the means of production and so what each 
worker produced, or part produced, had no relevence to themselves. This view is common amongst 
many marxists today who take the line that alienation is a symptom of capitalism and so will be lifted 
lift a veil of fog when capitalism is destroyed. It is treated with no more seriousness than an outbreak 
of skin rashes amongst the workers. Marx, as part of his predictions into the future, saw the necessity 
of the development of the class system and the means of production because it best contained the 
seeds of its own destruction. The argument went that the socialisation process of bringing the 
workers together would be a major factor in creating the revolutionary conditions for the overthrow of 
capitalism. Thus, for Marx, the positivity of the socialisation process vastly outweighed the negativity 
of alienation. Of course this is true in a utopian sense, but in reality it is somewhat different. By the 
time Trotsky had his hands on official marxism he was praising the ideas of Taylorism and scientific 
management as part of this necessity to see this development of the means of production. In fact. 
Taylorism was a tool of capitalism that exploited an already existing level of alienation. 

A truer picture of the weight of alienation was built up around the latter part of this century, when for 
many theorists it seemed that the balance between alienation and socialisation as determining forces 
had shifted to the negativity of alienation. For a start alienation was understood in its fullest concept 
(indeed, suggested by Marx) as an alienation between man and his world, man and his fellow beings, 
and finally between man and himself. For a while there seemed to be an open war declared in the 
field of alienation - where combatants were exploring its outermost limits. The whole history of 
capitalism was reinterpreted towards a process where alienation was developed to such a fine degree 
that the world of commodities were given a spectacular life of their own. The concept of a forward 
movement of progress became irrelevent as development in the capitalist sense meant exploiting our 
alienation as much as possible and carving up social existence into smaller and smaller parts. Of 
course this is only capitalism realising its cycle by any means available, but to many orthodox 
marxists a revolutionary enquiry into the mechanics of spectacular society represented nothing more 
than horseplay. And horseplay is what we have been left with with the philosophical discovery of 
postmodernism. At the other end of the scale those most involved in the study of alienation often 
thrashed out their practical activity in the sphere of culture - resorting to intervention and insult 
throwing. Whilst it is important to combat the systems that exist to extend and further our alienation 
there can sometimes exist a sense of resignation amongst many self styled pro-situationists activists 
- often they dont wait to be recuperated, instead they posit themselves as the new avant garde as 
some kind of spectacular reward for their efforts. Those who we point at here know who they are. 

It was situationist theory that first came to face up to the questions of our social conditions. This was 
labelled as the reversal of perspective - an examination of the subjective conditions of capitalism. The 
criticism levelled at the situationists was in their overplaying of this reversal of perspective - in 1979 
Barrot remarked that "The SI had no analysis of capital : it understood it. but through its effects... The 
SI saw the revolution as a calling into question more of the relations of distribution than the relations 
of production. It was accquainted with the commodity but not with surplus value." The situationists 
rallied against the obscenity of our alienation, using all means to destroy the practices and institutions 
that deal with alienation. To them, capitalism created alienation but alienation better extended 
capitalism into new domains. Their input into the Paris 1968 uprising is open to speculation, but their 
involvement was unquestioned. The criticism from Barrot may seem a bit undeserved as the 
situationists attempted to graft on a theory of councilism as the 'natural' way forward to reestablishing 
a semblance of real life. They seemed to hold onto the hope that if the subjective conditions of our 
lives were driven home to such an extent as to reveal their true nature then the revolutionary process 
wouid initiate itself and council communism would be seen as the viable way forward (thus the leftists 
were targetted more and more as the main problem). They intended to end the separations between 
production, distribution and consumption by calling for "generalised self management". For instance in 
their journal thay called for liberated workers to "initiate the reign of freeness by giving away factory 
and warehouse goods to friends and revolutionaries, by making gift objects (radio transmitters, toys, 
weapons, clothes, ornaments, machines for various purposes), by organising giveaway strikes in 
department stores, break the law of exchange and begin the end of wage labour by collectively 
appropriating the products of work and collectively using machines for personal and revolutionary 
purposes : depreciate the function of money by spreading payment strikes (rent, taxes, installment 
payments, transportation fares), encourage everyones creativity by starting up provisioning and 
production sectors exclusively under workers control". 


24 





A disciple of Barrot could argue that generalised self management could well be taken to mean the 
self management of something external to us - the economy. The crux of this disagreement I 
whether it is possible to literally push capitalism out of existence by facing up to and suppressing the 
realities of our alienation. Barrot seems to think that it is necessary to®thoroughly understand the 
mechanics of exchange, economy and capitalism - which includes understanding the principle of 
alienation. Whilst we could agree with this, it also seems clear to us that it is easy to fall into the old 
traps of becoming entrenched in the mechanisms of an alledged pure scientific capitalism and the 
°™9 '^ a R le Cr ; SIS - 11 W0U,d " IS0 seem that an understanding of alienation^ the necessar^ 
capitalism effects uTalf enqU,ry ’ ^ 3 regressive one ' lf we are t0 come t0 terms with how 

Sfhwpf rpL Pr mj^iiT T a h me later fr0n ; this diver 9 ence ' with the writings of Perlman and Camatte - 
hL 6 ^ d m . an<l . st f ■ The communist arguments around primitivism as a viable revolutionary tool 
seem to be constructed around our material conditions (see Aufheben #4 and Wildcat #17 for relevent 

?h thmk th f, th,s IS not a 900d path t0 P ursue as there is a tendency to list commodities 
and a rgue for their usefulness or uselessness. Thus to construct an argument for primitivism is 
pushed towards affirming something that is wholly negative and can only be negative - that is the 
material conditions of our alienated lives. For instance, all that can be argued for is that we have no 
say in what we produce, that imagination and creativity have never existed 9 It almost seems stupid for 
communists to be arguing in such a manner - the nature of modern capitalism w IIh^wefus wrth 
crap, with fads and maybe ith the odd wonderful item. The first conclusion from thifis that this s 
either another argument solely identifying our alienation (as used by the situationists etc) or tha/it is a 

^ S " r * rt isnt >‘ So if ara to a ^ume that t^S STnttnued ) b emoaning of 
MwIc C f P ^ atenal conditions is just the continuation of the tirade against alienation (by highlighting our 
JSp^1C^ k !f ,n98, . th ? n We J h ° uld Perhaps face the same criticisms as the sitSists 
However, the second conclusion is that if it is considered o.k. for a bunch of revolutionaries to araue 
about what constitutes good/bad material conditions then the social conditions amongst the proletariat 

^l^thSt deC H d ? What make . S 3 9 ° 0d commodit y or a pile Of crap is to perhap S P implicitly 

imply that the social conditions in our class are such that communication, decision making ingenuitv 
“ r c ,f non-ex,stant. This would then re-open the full enquiry into alienaSn ^aSon 
amongst our class, and of how to combat it. instead of assuming that because we live in a societv 

n en d ' scuss i ons on forms such as council communism are irrelevant. So it ^ 
the social conditions that I am going to return to when summarising on workplace and community 

a J S0 f00lis V° asj ! ume that aiienation can be simply abolished by socialisation - there 
are different categories of socialisation that need to be considered. Barrots critigue of emphasising 
the cnfigue of alienation is equally valid if we see our way forward as consisting solely of the 
m a^hinh^H 0 pr0CeSS ' Put ^P^- socialisation does not imply anti-capitalism. Socialisation will exist 
to a high degree in communist society - the essence of such socialisation is the coming together to 
nrlhtms ProWems .whetherthey be emotional, practical, organisational, etc. Now. oneof the main 
problems of capitalist society is the alienated individual, and so while ever capitalism creates 
a a " a '° n AnL ?h Wn 900 '! 3 s ? re ^ erses its effects b y brin g |n g together those most desparate and 
nothin?tn kSI Jn'f 'll retUf u to the hierarch y of poverty of our class, where those with absolutely 
rpvn ninJn ^ l0 u 0 V° ea( ? 0t * h ? r for supporl u IS wron 9 t° assume that this coming together is 
revolutionary, though it can be taken to be an indicator of the socialisation that must exist in 
communist society - le a high degree of cooperation, mutual aid. etc. It is also within this coming 
hi no^Lp e p C nl"° eiaments of our class that the communist class consciousness can grow : it has 
proletarianisatfon 9V ° f 3 sociallsatlon and the ne 9 atlve energy of the understanding of 

What must be made clear is that the understanding of the balance between alienation end 
socialisation must be resolved and applied to the understanding of the balance between work and 
consumption. This is the way forward to break down the restricts of a ba^tS^JStoSS 
and community. For instance, the socialisation process in the workplace is an issue that e P xfsts 
beyond some simplified debate of rank and filism, and revolutionary socialisation is something that 
t e he S ?xo a o S s,?a°S nfho b ^ S ' hat i ng '- ™ realisation may well co^^Z^SE 

& soStion praceSIn me workptaci pr °-° ommunist d *™nds something else from 

4. Moving Forward. 

(i) Community and Workplace Today. 

Mi t hA/^ l r S u Pnnted ' W ’ th0ut a reply ’ in Eduction Worker issue 3, the bulletin of the Education 

k ’ a " anarcho-syndicalist grouping within the umbrella of the Solidarity Federation It 
oegins as follows . How can anyone professing to have anarchist views work within the english 


25 







State Ration system? I'm not asking this question to be provocative I really 
‘? d imagine that most of this teaching to be keeping order for the majority so that 
most of the class can learn most of the facts laid down by government...' 1 y 

, are a few . othe , r l acts we can add on here to give this a fuller picture of how current 
revolutionary analysis falls way short of practical use. I am reliably informed that lecturers and 
teachers are the biggest strikers in the UK in terms of working days lost So we have industrial action 
tha It a" mean, well basically it is about pay and conditions and nothin! els! ie give u! 

the right money for doing a hard job. When the kids start rioting in schools and colleqes because the 
education they are getting is so unfulfilling then the teachers and lecturers can always ask for more 
™°? < : y °^ atCh t heir 'depreciating and demoralising work conditions. But education fs so vital it is 

hem So^fh'^ \TZ S ZX nd h0PS f ° r 3 n ? W v S ° Ciety and creabn 9 a realisable t!ke 

f So f . wlth aH tf \ ese teachers going on strike you would think that we are on the brink of a 
revolution within education - which is obviously an important step towards communism Not a bit of it 
l m afraid So whafs to blame? Well I would certainly suggest the limited strucTure o?theworkofo 
struggle that has allowed it to slip into trade unionism and the demand for bitter pay. work P ,ace 

° f * he mo ? ilberal ' teachers where 1 work talk of the 'mutual aid' amonqst their neiqhbourhood 
a f« e 9 w 3 h t commu . n ' t y feelm 9 Well this phenomenom is nothing new. ft is called middle class 

?vitPm ££ hiPP t?h' a K h6 ?? 9 f high ranking jobs within education social work, or the local state 
system and take out their bad feelings by creating LETS schemes etc. Its the Yin and Yan to use their 

hai^rfr? 8 > de0 °E y ' s P end al ! da y screaming at kids or disciplining them to obey the system and then 
b ?^"f !t °. ut b y bem 9 cann ? and kind in your environment. Its strange that mos/of the political 
iden k,nd of b,ue p rint this new communatarianism, as it is befog 
the SiSf lnH a t ^ Strugg,e model ’ which is developed in these new ’muesli belts' in 
a Cltie l and has as ,. lts Practice the neighbourhood watch or playground action schemes 
Undesirable juvenile delinquents are not tolerated...why, a good educatfon is probablv the best 

oStfolfk hTnc W n h® U u d ^ r SU ? h a < dominant s V stem of capitalism then for young people the best 
option is to usually break the rules for a piece of the action (ie anti-social crime) The revolutionary 
solution certainly isnt to educate them to respect the rules of capitalism, and to qet their action 
through the legal channels of working hard and paying the price. 

overTie'lasMn°venrt Sta ‘® ,° f play Within ( , he immunity struggle - in terms of its history 

he® l am fUf°.n mil. P ° PL ! lar l ! ty a ! a revolu < j onary ideology. I will not repeat these ideas 
thTl'J, am i f ? t0 admit that the struggle based on our living terrain is not easy to formulate and that 

°I mutu f alaid within our class is often easy to overelaborate on 
and Rrari Jrrt 9 ?; wl M' Slm ' ar pattern of riots in the shiftier parts of our cities - notably in Luton 
and Bradford. Is it revolutionary to look to Toxteth, Brixton. Handsworth etc with a vain hoDe everv 

hpL^p 66 a ii' 0t i ° n th t neWS l ThiS t0 me iS 3 Sign of a weak wa V of thinking. While it is obvious that 
thf S f areas wi11 fways be on the boiling point, we should see community struggle as being more than 
the expression of the ultra-excluded. The revolutionary spirit should be taken to all the workina class 

ItetLrLTm 9 ! hu'nd^ ncep, h ? f bi ® rarphy Wi,h the Underclass at the bottom Thfs^ the® ang^ 
s!cieN Ann™ ^ rchltects educators, bakers, gardeners, entertainers of the communist 

, bi i n ® cess "y ° f the capitalist system, they have been made to feel their 
Inin ! , h hap s ™P'y because they are most rejected. Or angry because they have chosen 
long ago to simply reject the system, and so find themselves struggling*amongst the rejected. 

The recent developments of practical activities and ideas from the anti poll tax and CJB movements 
wnrkn,nne US f efUl ^ W ® seen reclaim th * streets actions across L^don But lat of the 
stmnnie tnH trU " e n WOuld ' k ® t0 comment firs,| y °" the current outlook regarding workplace 
struggle, and secondly on the current debate on trade unionism. The welfare state is beina both run 
down and tightened up. This creates strike threat in many areas of the state - such as thl lecture™ 
3Pp |pranes in Sheffield this year. Strikes within the state, or within industries that are due to be 

oPus'c^nt a < fford P tn S take'[he r f S * ln HAl' ,lJ ^i t ' 0nS ' W ®J : supported the signal workers even though most 
or us cant afford to take the train. We all supported the teachers (except Class War) even thouah thev 

al^sunn nrtprTth 1° 3 sys ,! em that is desi 9 ne d to brutalise our kids into accepting caDitalist society We 
a I supported the journalists (well we didnt!) when the NUJ demanded better pay and conditions We 

Alfowance°srhP»mp ^t!" 9 Beneflts Agency staff even though they will be running the Job Seekers 
rni?^inn in ^ I Putt '? 9 i. 0n my sltuat,omst hat how about these poetic ideas : a refusal of fare 
!s oart Of thP R»n»ft y « S l n ®' extr f zeroes on our giros and intimidation of vindictive restart officers 
fiohil °f. £ Be " eflts . Agency strike, marxism and anarchism on the curriculum as part of the 
teachers strike, and as for the journalists... H 

I b 5® ' s l he f 1 dggestion that there is an intense period of workplace unrest on the horizon - hence the 

bate Birttf^f H"tn'fnTf Wa9eS w ? e '2 f ' 9ures are p °PP' n 9 U P all over the left like numbers on lottery 
balls But if it is to find favour and effectiveness within the milieu politicised by struggles such as the 


26 







poll tax, CJB, then it must extend the boundaries : the signal workers strike was an example of 
nothing happening. 

The debate in the anarchist milieu around trade unionism and rank and filism is symptomatic of a 
similar straightjacket Of course trade unionism is nothing more than a bargaining tool with (for) the 
management. The concern about rank and filism seems to be whether the rank and file organisation 
will substitute itself for the union, and so open itself up to the same critique as unionism. Wildcat 
blissfully propose to organise 'outside and against the unions’ - but this skips the key questions - ie 
outside and against are just characteristics of an organisation. What we need to develop are the 
widest reasons why we should organise in the workplace and let our organisations reflect this. Take 
the car factory where my brother works. What most of the shopfloor look forward to is the dinnertime 
football match, this is outside and against the union but is it revolutionary. In many respects the 
answer is yes because it steps out of the workplace framework to define a new environment for the 
workplace. I will try to extend these ideas with the summing up of this essay in the final section. 

(ii) Bringing together or breaking definitions? 

What is explained .about capitalism can be recounted. Capitalism is an unfair system not just because 
marxists have unearthed the great swindle that it operates. It is unfair because it makes our lives a 
constant struggle, a misery, a waste of human effort. The great swindle that capitalism operates is 
thus twofold. It is by its definition an economic swindle that involves those doing the producing being 
left on their hands and knees struggling to buy back the products of their labours - and it manages to 
hide this swindle with the greatest feat of all in masking and manipulating the misery that it 
necessarily creates. 

As these swindles were perfected we have been pushed to the position of losing touch with what we 
actually produce. The state bullies us into accepting a job that we are convinced we are qualified to 
do and we go to work solely to earn money. This money is necessary to buy back the products we, as 
the working class, have solely created. If it was a simple case of these products being obviously 
useful - in that we would have the capacity to understand their use value alone - then it would be a 
simpler case of spreading the 'truth' about the unfairness of the capitalist system. But capitalism has 
created the logic of exchange value - necessary in the pursual of profit - but useful in keping us 
swindled and dominated. We must ask ourselves the question what does going to work mean for 
many members of our class? For some the answer would be to earn the money to buy back the 
products we are told will make us happy. This system is not a perfect fit - it is based on lies and 
exploitation and so it does not function smoothly. It does function very well, but not perfectly. 

So an understanding of marxist theory is necessary, as I hope to have stressed. However we need to 
realise that the basis of our struggle - that capitalism needs us but we dont need capitalism - creates 
a complicated picture. Thus current society is a mixture of capitalism adjusting to our demands and 
struggles, capitalism convincing us that we need it, and capitalism developing strategies and 
techniques that try to ensure that we dont place the major demands on itself. Thus when I talk about 
community the starting point should be how capitalism has built the terrains and conditions we live in, 
and that the terrains and conditions are designed to eradicate struggles from the past and to create 
new diversions from the potential struggles of the future. The driving logic of this has'been for capital 
to carve up our social existance into smaller and smaller parts - every minute detail says something 
banal about us, and every minute detail can bought, flaunted and discarded. There is also a dividing 
technique at work here. Those unable to pay the costs of admission into society are banished by the 
rest of our class. 

I have discussed community in detail because I felt that the balance needed redressing - the works 
on community based struggle seemed to lack an analysis. I'm not saying that what I present is crystal 
clear, indeed there is much to be done, but at least this opens the way for a fuller analysis. I have 
suggested 2 arguments to balance. The ideas of work and consumption are key areas that feed 
directly into any struggles we could develop towards forging the workplace and community struggle 
together into a revolutionary force. The ideas of alienation and socialisation present us with more of a 
Theoretical study. I will leave this as a blank slate and so any debate from these chapters can be 
-.--osidered a move forwards. However, it isnt an opening to academicise the lost side of marxism. I 
' Lf* situat ' on ‘ sts were pushing in the right direction with their upfront confrontation with 
and that their project can be reassessed in the cold light of our information rich society. I 
T*at the development of the study of primitivism is a key step - though I have my 
sse?Y&jGns due to its duel tendency to be both a submission to alienation or a submission to critical 

= ~uc h to be positive about in terms of revolutionary analysis. Whilst some of this 
' 5 ="coated as a friendly engagement with Subversion, they also print the excellent polemic 


27 







i 


'4 kinds of cops’ regarding the Timex dispute. The development of the inter-enterprises committees in 
Paris 1968 is also something worthy of study. This is examined by Barrot who concludes: " On the 
other hand, to revolutionise production, to destroy enterprises as such, the communist revolution is 
bound to make use of production. This is its essential lever at least during one phase. The aim is not 
to take over the factories only to remain there to manage them, but to get out of them, to connect 
them to each other without exchange, which destroys them as enterprises". But Barrot's ideas were 
influenced by a strong streak that disagreed with the situationist overemphasis on alienation, a 
perceived over emphasis that led to the situationist banter about the playgrounds of tomorrow etc etc. 
To me it would seem that it is time to reopen such a disagreement as a minimum to chart a 
revolutionary.path. With this the debates about rank and filism would attain real relevence. 


Source Materials for this issue of Communist Headache: 


Barrot and Martins "Eclipse and Re-emergence of the 
Communist Movement". 

SituatK'jist International Anthology. 

P. Bc'-^ lieu "Distinction". 

Class War Federation "Unfinished Business". 

Danny Burns "Poll Tax Rebellion". 

Aufheben journal particularly... 

Decline of Theory issues #2,3 
Auto Struggles #3 

Wldcat journal #17 various articles used. 

Here and Now #15 "The Search for Security". 

Subversion journal as follows... 

Unfinished Business Review #11 
Letter regarding above #12 
Cops - 4 Different Kinds #13 
Beyond Rank and Vile Trade Unionism #14 
Revolutionaries in the Workplace #15 
Continuing debate in letters #15,16